The Spruce Railroad Trail

Port Angeles, Washington 98362

The Spruce Railroad Trail

The Spruce Railroad Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This trail offers a gentle stroll along the north shore of Lake Crescent, making a point-to-point hike that is described here from east to west.

It follows an old railbed that was built during World War I to transport Sitka spruce from the then-inaccessible western part of the peninsula to the aircraft factories. Sitka spruce has a superior ratio of strength to weight, and was therefore coveted for the making of biplane airframes."

More The Spruce Railroad Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This fun singletrack trail runs along the shores of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. It’s bounded by steep slate walls above and the water below. Check out a tiny “hole in the rock” tunnel, and after your workout, relax beside mountains reflecting in the turquoise lake.

This trail, one of only a couple in Olympic National Park that allow dogs, offers a gentle stroll along the north shore of Lake Crescent, making a point-to-point hike that is discussed here from east to west. It follows an old railbed that was built during World War I to transport Sitka spruce from the then-inaccessible western part of the peninsula to the aircraft factories. The trail begins by running inland from the North Shore Road, climbing gently to reach the old railroad grade. As the railbed runs southward, it passes through a mixed forest of red alder and Douglas fir, skirting inland to avoid private residences along the lakeshore."

"This easy 8.0-mile walk along the shores of Lake Crescent follows the route of a historic railroad line.

Two trailheads serve the Spruce Railroad Trail, allowing hikers to start at either end or to take two cars and shuttle between the trailheads for a shorter hike. From the eastern trailhead, the route begins easily, following the bones of one of the many logging roads built to bring lumber down to the railway in 1918. Firs and hemlocks thicken as you move beyond a few cabins and houses clustered near the trailhead. Before long the trail finds portions of the rail bed as it skirts the lake. The first mile of trail involves a few ups and downs as you make your way around the base of Pyramid Mountain, and the views of the lake begin to widen."

"A perfect trail for the whole family, this old railroad grade runs alongside Lake Crescent and is wide enough for even a bike trailer! Everyone can enjoy riding on the dirt road, then advancing to its mountain trail.

With a two-car shuttle, you may choose to continue all the way to the beach along a paved road; otherwise, just make it an out-and-back and enjoy the trail in both directions. This is a very pretty ride and also very popular, especially in the summer."

"This fun singletrack trail and paved extension runs along the shores of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. It’s bounded by steep slate walls above and the water below. Check out a tiny “hole in the rock” tunnel and, after your workout, relax beside mountains mirrored in the turquoise lake.

The Spruce Railway was a war effort during World War I, when the US Army needed the light, strong wood of the Sitka spruce to build airplane frames. This tree grows only along the Pacific coastal region from northern California to Alaska, with vast stands located in the roadless Olympic Peninsula. The army’s Spruce Production Division built the Olympic Spruce Railroad #1 around Lake Crescent in 1918. Armistice Day arrived on November 11, 1918; nineteen days later, the line was completed."

"This is an easy eight-mile out-and-back ride beside bucolic Lake Crescent. At one point the trail crosses an arched bridge over a lovely rock-walled inlet. Waterfowl may be observed along the shore of the lake, and deer are often seen in the woods. Views across the clear water are of forested hills backed by the majestic Olympic Mountains.

Since the ride is in a national park, the scene contains no clear-cuts. The trip is spiced up by a couple of short stretches of technical singletrack. Good outing for energetic families."

"This historic railroad grade with ruined tunnels offers children a level lakeshore walk, a swim, a chance to examine the entrances to two tunnels, and the opportunity to look down from a bridge into the Devil’s Punchbowl. On a hot day whole families have been known to jump into chilly Lake Crescent to cool off. Parents should tell kids that the Spruce Railroad was built by the U.S. government to carry out spruce for World War I airplane wings.

The war ended before any spruce was carried, but the tracks did carry carloads of logs and workers on the Port Angeles Western Railroad along the lake’s north shore until the 1950s. Old-timers tell of crossties made of alder and maple, which quickly rotted (explaining the nickname “The P. A. Wobbly”), and of the sunken locomotive resting in one of the coves. Another legend has it that train employees ate fruit as they traveled, and where they tossed apple cores and cherry pits out the windows, fruit trees stand today."

"This fun single-track trail runs along the shores of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. It’s bounded by steep slate walls above and the water below. Check out a tiny “hole in the rock” tunnel and, after your workout, relax beside mountains reflecting in the turquoise lake.

Surface: Smooth dirt and gravel with some rocky areas. Most of the trail is 3 to 4 feet wide, although it has eroded to 2 feet and is banked toward the lake in places. Location: Olympic National Park, 16 miles west of Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, Clallam County."

"Hop aboard the Spruce Railroad Trail for a scenic and historic hike along the sparkling shores of massive Lake Crescent—at 9 miles long, over 600 feet deep, and surrounded by steep ridges and peaks, the lake seems more like a fjord. This trail, with its microclimate of drier conditions than areas just a few miles away, is a good choice on an overcast day.

Part of the long-distance Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT), the Spruce Railroad Trail is one of the few routes in Olympic National Park that permits mountain bikes and dogs."

"This trail offers a gentle stroll along the north shore of Lake Crescent, making a point-to-point hike that is discussed here from east to west. It follows an old railbed that was built during World War I to transport Sitka spruce from the then-inaccessible western part of the peninsula to the aircraft factories. Sitka spruce has a superior ratio of strength to weight, and was therefore coveted for the making of biplane airframes. The railroad was completed in a remarkable time of only six weeks, but the war was over before the first logs rolled eastward on the rails. The railway was active through the 1950s, when it was abandoned and subsequently turned into a trail. It is one of the only trails in Olympic National Park where mountain bikes are permitted.

The trail begins by running inland from North Shore Road, climbing gently to reach the old railroad grade. As the railbed runs southward, it passes through a mixed forest of red alder and Douglas fi r, skirting inland to avoid private residences along the lakeshore. It then descends to the shoreline, although dense trees screen out views of the water."

"During World War I, the strong and lightweight wood of Sitka spruce was considered an ideal material for manufacturing a newfangled machine with potential military applications known as an airplane. (You may have heard about them.) To collect this wood, a railroad was built on the northern Olympic Peninsula from the lumber mills at Port Angeles to the forests where the trees grew. The war ended just as construction was completed, but the railroad was still used for general logging purposes for several decades.

Today, a portion of the old railroad bed has been converted into an extremely scenic trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent. In addition to offering frequent views of this enormous lake, the hiking is remarkably easy because the old railroad bed is nearly level."

The Spruce Railroad Trail Reviews

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6/12/2010
Great trail, some rocky areas and parts where big boulders were blocking the path. But nothing you can't just pick your bike up and over. It was my wife's and I first ride since we bought our mountain bikes! Beautiful scenery with the water to your right hand side most of the ride. Some rocky parts however, but nothing to difficult.
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6/1/2009
Nice easy trail, great views of the lake. Nice areas to stop along the way and enjoy the water.
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7/24/2008
This trail is best described as a nice flat trail that follows the shoreline of the lake closely. It's picturesque without being aerobically strenuous or technically challenging. This is a trail I like to ride with my kids, taking breaks along the way to swim in a quiet section of the lake.
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6/10/2006
The trail was very well kept up and a definate Olympic National Forest must ride. My 11 year old daughter accompanied me and it was a doable ride for her. Do bring the repellent and watch out for ticks as there were plenty of dear and bushes that are on the trial.
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7/6/2002
Easy aerobic ability. However, this trail is not as easy as as previous descriptions I've read. It does not stay entirely on the railroad grade, thus there are some moderate to steep, albeit short, climbs in the mud. Several loose rocky areas and a few of these on steep curves overlooking drops above Lake Cresent. The wider two-track portions are gentle riding. My seven year old son rode this on a single speed bike, although there were several steeper sections which he was forced to walk. Beautiful and postcard scenic. Would recommend to those of most levels, but beware it is not flat and most intermediate riders and below will not ride every outcrop or narrow portion, so don't be afraid to walk what you're not comfortable riding.
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5/20/2000
The description of this trail is somewhat deceiving. It is a beautiful trail, however, not as easy as described. We took our 8 year old (thinking this was a "family" trail)...there's some areas of single track ascent/descent that were not any fun at all for him. There's lots of areas of washout to be careful of...It is a very cool trail though!
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Trail Information

Port Angeles
Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
4
Distance
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
2-3.5 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
Mountain Biking
Additional Use
Views
Features
USGS Lake Crescent; Custom Correct Lake Crescent– Happy Lake Ridge
Local Maps